We moved to our little homestead in the summer of 2018. It was a dream come true. I had been growing my own vegetables in my small garden in the city up to then and though it was so much fun, I couldn’t wait to up the size of my patch.
At the beginning of the summer in 2018 we were able to bring two of my city garden boxes with us. (We would have brought the rest but they were in pretty bad disrepair, and were odd shapes to fit my tiny city lawn) We also added four more boxes. But since we had just purchased a house and moved, we didn’t want to break the bank.
The garden in 2018 was unbelievably fun. If you have just had the chance to expand your garden by any amount, you know how exciting it is to have that extra room.
But, we moved in in June. The garden season was well on its way and in Ontario, the season is so short, we really couldn’t do a massive amount. So when 2019 rolled around, you better believe I was in full planning mode!
There were a few things I needed to consider in the planning.
First up, How Many Raised Beds to Build?
All The Raised Beds!!
Okay….I’m calm. I had to be real. So I looked back through our meal plans (which I tend to write in dry erase on counter tops and take pictures of with my phone) and through our pantry to find staple ingredients. The goal here is self reliance. I want to eventually be growing as much of our food as possible.
With just the two of us eating people food and a few reptiles who eat lettuces, we don’t have an excess of mouths to feed. We decided to add 9 more boxes. I realize that sounds outrageous, but hear me out! They will be 2×6 and each one will be growing foods we eat regularly and that can store or freeze well.
The trick for us is winters and storage
Which means, What To Plant?
And, how much can I realistically process for storage while also making a living in the chocolate world. (Just eat chocolate forever you say? I looked into it, not enough nutrients.)
We have enough boxes in our plan now to cover a lot of our staples. Through the 2018-2019 winter we were a wee bit house poor. That meant pairing down our groceries and food variety. It turned out to be a great food experience. I was forced to get more creative and try out a lot of new dishes. I utilized more dried lentils and beans, got back into using frozen foods, and we ate a lot of potato dishes. I’m not complaining, potatoes rock.
Now in the plan we have a few beds for the yummy, delicate summer stuff, that I can preserve. A bed of lettuces and herbs, mostly for reptiles, but also that will feed us through the season. There will be beds for root crops, as well as a few beds for beans, peas and I’m even trying corn. And since my spirit vegetable (totally a thing) is butternut squash, there will be some squashes and pumpkins. All freezable and storable.
The final thing to consider in our garden construction is…We are on a Hill.
So Garden Spacing, and Size?
This was really not a huge issue, but a matter of logistics and feasibility. To do most of my layout planning I used The Old Farmers Almanac Garden Planner. It’s fantastic for structural planning but also really great for individual plant layout. This isn’t sponsored or anything, I’ve just really enjoyed using their planner. If you are in need of a planner and aren’t great at drawing those gorgeous pencil crayon layouts I see all over Pinterest/Instagram than I fully recommend this planner. (And it stores your plans from year to year to help you with rotational planting)
Anyways, hillside. Logistics. Garden.
We’ve decided to dig the boxes into the hill. Kind of like a staircase. Our soil is a heavy clay so this has been a fun workout so far, but I am hopeful that it will be successful. Our Soil Mix for the raised bed gardens is great for retaining moisture, and I’m a big fan of mulching, so I’m not too worried about water loss down the slope.
And we are using an irrigation system that Hubby has designed (post coming soon!) which will help to keep up frequency of waterings while we are at work.
We’ll also be fencing in the garden, since as you can see we get an excess of digging help from our lovely ladies. and I love them, but I want vegetables.
More on the fencing and filling of the boxes in part 2 of the Garden Construction post. If all goes to plan that will be up on the site very shortly.
The gardens do need to come together promptly, as my seedlings are growing impatient! Stay Tuned!